February 2017 is mental health awareness month and we have been reflecting upon this here at SGPC HQ. Mental health is important to us because as Parent Carers, mental health is something that seems so ever present, close by, be it our own or that of the loved ones we care for. At times mental health can be more fragile than others but we are always searching for an elusive sense of balance and equilibrium.
Contact A Family carried out a piece of research "Forgotten Families" that identified that 72% of Parent Carers experience depression, anxiety or breakdown. Now that is quite a lot but doesn't at all surprise us, we know this from our own personal experience and from supporting others on our shared journey too. The reasons for this are many and varied from isolation, battling services for help to just sheer physical and biochemical exhaustion, but we know that there is something that all members of our community struggling with mental health have in common, you are amazing and we salute you!
We know that after what is the 7th, 8th, 9th year of disturbed sleep, you get up exhausted to do it all again. We know that when you are feeling numb and like someone has filled your body with sand so even moving is difficult, you carry on. We know that sometimes anxiety consumes you, but you do what you need to do. We know you are exhausted from dealing with services but you find the time and energy to do your research, prepare for that meeting and go in like the lion or lioness you are to advocate for your child. You have learnt to deal with unhelpful looks and stupid comments you thick skinned rhino you, and when you find yourself anxious and down about the future, you have smiles and encouragement for your children. You may or may not need medication to get you through, but you do it and you do it your way.
We celebrate you and recognise ourselves within you and when we meet other Parent Carers, and the nods of knowing and understanding are exchanged, in our minds and our imagination we are doing something akin to the three fingered salute that Katniss gives to her community in The Hunger Games. You are amazing and never forget it.